Ladyhawke dials back the synth
SYNTH- POP made her a star but Ladyhawke wants something different for album No. 2.
She grew up on ’ 90s rock and cites the Smashing Pumpkins – and their random guitar solos – as an inspiration.
She calls out alt- rockers like the Pixies, Nirvana and Brit- poppers Blur as her influences.
She says she’s turned her back on synths, but it’s not true.
As it turns out, the New Zealand- born star has merely dialled back her dreamy, twinkling, ’ 80s influences in favour of indie- rock.
This fuzzy indie- rock is very similar to the fuzzy synths she worked to perfection on her hit debut.
What is different is the amount of pop she is pushing into the mix this time around.
Half of the material on her self- titled debut sounded like obvious hit singles. They were radio- friendly tunes but still undeniably cool.
This album has fewer lows in terms of quality, which is good and consistent – but there are also fewer highs.
Hidden at the album’s back end is the title track, a jaunty and upbeat tune with a serious undertone. Ladyhawke was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome a few years ago and she holds nothing back on Anxiety, singing about how she needed medication just to get out of her house in the morning. ‘‘ Show me how to hide the voice in my head,’’ she sings. Her last album’s lyrics were honest but this one turns up the dial.
Vanity sports one of this album’s better basslines, which vanishes and re- appears at the mercy of a hazy melody. It has radio written on it in permanent marker, a rocker with an electronic underbelly.
Blue Eyes is a good example of her love of crunchy guitars. Its messy solo is charming and leaves the listener wanting more.
Sunday Drive feels like it was written with David Bowie playing in the background. It’s wistful and sweet one minute and then crazy flashing lasers the next.
The brash, buzzing noises might actually be annoying on a car stereo but they’ve been purpose built to destroy festivals and stadiums.
When Ladyhawke turns in slow burning, simmering, nostalgic alt- pop tunes, she is at her best. Girl Like Me and
The Quick and the Dead are prime examples of her sultry, kind- of- detached, almost- French vocal style in full swing. These are the songs that’ll make folks reach for the repeat button.